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If you have the new Twitter profile, you’ve probably noticed Favorites are a lot more prominent. And, as Kevan Lee pointed out the other day, you may want to rethink your “favoriting” strategy because of it.

I, for example, use the Favorite button as a Like button for Twitter and as a read-later button (I have an IFTTT recipe that adds all my favorites to my Pocket account).

What would be awesome, and what I’m sure Twitter won’t do but anyway, is if each user could customize the language on their page to say whatever they wanted. So like, I could change the word “Favorite” on my page to “Read Later” or “Best Tweets.” Universally, it would still be called the Favorite button, but users would know there’s an added layer of context.

This would do two great things:

  1. It would play into existing behavior. Most Twitter users I know have their own way of using the Favorite button, and it varies pretty widely.
  2. It would incentivize Twitter users to visit each other’s pages and thus spend more time on the site. Think about it: If you got a notification that someone “favorited” one of your tweets, wouldn’t you click through to see what they meant by that?

Like I said, Twitter probably won’t do this, but they should. It would be one small customization that would make the overall experience better.

Why Twitter Is Trying To Be Facebook

Coletivo Mambembe / Flickr

Coletivo Mambembe / Flickr

In the last few months, Twitter has hinted at a gradual slide toward looking and feeling more like Facebook. Specifically, its teased a Facebook-y redesign for profiles, toyed with getting rid of @ mentions, and just yesterday, it introduced multi-photo tweets and photo tagging.

For Twitter purists, this sucks. As Gizmodo put it, if we wanted Twitter to be Facebook… we’d be on Facebook.

But for Twitter, the changes and proposed changes aren’t without good reason. For starters, just look at the world’s most popular social networks:

If that wasn’t enough, Twitter was just surpassed by Instagram in terms of total U.S. mobile users.

In short, Twitter needs to grow. It appears it’s trying to do that by appealing to the masses—and no social network is more massive than Facebook. It’s familiar, and maybe familiarity will be enough to get some people to try Twitter.

Whether more Facebook-like features are implemented will depend on how Twitter’s core users react. There’s a balance to be struck between “things we can do to attract new users” and “things that will attract new users but piss off old ones.”

Expect the search for that balance to become more intense and more regular. Twitter is, after all, a publicly traded company now.

Russell Wilson Talks to the Media

One of the best things I’ve implemented to boost my productivity at work is Tac Anderson’s GTD hack. The part that helps me the most is writing out what my day will look like, hour by hour.

Lately—and you’ll notice this per the notes above—I’ve been taking a page from another productivity master’s book: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Here’s what Wilson said he did during halftime at the Super Bowl that helped the Hawks keep momentum going into the second half:

I took my whole uniform off, I took a shower and everything — we had about 45 minutes. So I took a shower, I re-taped everything, got my arm stretched again — we got into a whole ‘nother stretch again. So that kinda restarted our minds. And so we came out of halftime, it felt like it was a brand-new game.

I don’t always have the luxury of a 45-minute break in the middle of the day at work, but on days when I do, I make a point to take a break. I’ll go out for a walk, get lunch, whatever, and when I come back, I re-evaluate what I have to do for the rest of the day. I treat the second four hours like it’s a whole new day. Here’s what it looks like:

An image of Paul Balcerak's day planner

The effect is twofold: (1) It makes the day seem shorter, since it’s broken up into two manageable chunks; and (2) it helps me focus on the absolute must-do stuff, because rather than having eight whole hours! to do whatever I need, my time appears more limited.

Try it out this week. Write out the first half of your Monday tonight, before you go to bed, and then re-plan the noon/1-5 p.m. half of your day at lunch tomorrow.

Photo credit: WEBN-TV / Flickr

A photo of books in a library

I’ve been collecting a higher-than-average number of social media links lately. I thought I’d drop some of the more standout ones here in case you don’t follow my Tumblr or Delicious accounts:

Photo: CCAC North Library / Flickr

This Data Visualization Of Seattle Buses Is Awesome

I’m a big fan of infrastructure—so much so that I started a Pinterest board recently dedicated to it. Maybe it’s the data geek in me. I just love seeing systems work.

This 24-hour time lapse representation of Seattle’s bus routes is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while:

It’s also great at getting the message across. Seattle and King County routes are being threatened right now by gaping service cuts. Watch this video for even just a few seconds, and you start to appreciate how drastic those cuts would look in real life.

Fuck It—Write It

Credit: Hafiz Issadeen / Flickr

Partially inspired by the link I shared in my last post, and this piece from Kelly Clay back in October, I’m refocusing myself on this blog. In essence, if I’m stuck on a particular thought and I’m debating whether or not to blog about it: Fuck It—Write It.

You’ll notice the look of this site has changed; that’s because I’m done messing around with trying to make it look just how I want it. There was a time when that mattered to me, but if I’m being honest, I’m no designer. I built this thing to write, and to help focus my professional development.

So that’s what I’ll be back to doing. And maybe the occasional Seahawks or Star Trek post. Let’s do this.

Photo via Flickr

‘It’s time to fuck things up [and] burn things down’

Image of a fireball on black background

One of my favorite sites to read is designer Bobby Solomon’s The Fox is Black. It has nothing to do with anything I do, really; it’s just an enjoyable read and often showcases pretty stuff.

Anyway, Bobby posted some thoughts this week on changes to his blog, and they’re worth passing along. Consider this for your blog, your life…anything:

So as simple as that, you’ll start to see a shift in the site. There will be more random thoughts and ideas being pushed out and less of me worrying about whether or not what I’m doing fits with the old space. It’s time to fuck things up, burn things down, and try to again to create something that truly fits me.

Watch Me Live Tweet SAM Remix On February 21

Photo of the facade of the SAM

I’m very excited and honored to have been chosen as one of the guest-tweeters during the next SAM Remix on February 21. This is a super cool event: It’s essentially a club/mixer inside an art gallery, with live art and performances included. Here are some of the features I’m most looking forward to this round (check out the event page for a full list):

I’ll be tweeting from the @iheartSAM Twitter handle at the opening of the event, from 8-8:50 p.m., and if you email me (paulbalcerak [at] gmail [dot] com), I can give you a discount code for $5 off an adult ticket.

I hope to see some of you guys out there. I’m seriously geeked out over being able to do this. Please do stop by and say hey to me if you’re there, or talk to me via @iheartSAM on Twitter the night of.



Today is my 30th birthday.

I’ve joked that I’ve been in my thirties for a while now (re: house, baby), but now it’s official. It means a lot and it doesn’t change anything at all.

In terms of taking stock of my life, I feel great. I have everything I need:

  • Oliver and Nikki
  • Health

Everything else is frosting compared to those things.

I’ve always struggled with goals, but there are two things I’ve never wavered from. First, above all, I want to be happy. Second, I want to spread that happiness in any way possible. I’ll let the world and history decide if I’ve accomplished the latter, but at the former, I’ve succeeded extraordinarily (see “everything I need” above). I’ve done so through a combination of optimism, hard work and luck

In the interest of achieving those goals in the next 10 years, here are three specific things I want to focus on:

Be better at spreading happiness

This mainly relates to being a husband and father. I only listed two things I need, but if health falls off—and it always does, eventually—I will still have what I need most. My goal then is to make sure my family knows how happy they make me, and the best way is to reciprocate as much as possible.

Be better at meeting people and making friends

At times, I’ve been a bit of a wallflower. We all have. The fact is, everyone’s shy and just wants someone to come up and talk to them. It’s the warmest feeling when you’re alone in a crowded room. Be the guy that walks up—that’s all.

Be better at sharing what I’ve been given

As I said earlier, I’ve been amazingly lucky. I’m in a position to be able to give back regularly, and one of my immediate goals is to create a structured plan for doing so.

I’m excited. My 20s we’re a blur in a lot of ways, and I’m sure my 30s will be, too (re: kids). Right now, though, it’s the present, and the future’s just starting to open up. I’m ready to boldly go.

The New Seattle

Seattle skyline after the Seahawks Super Bowl win

Credit: Patrick Choi / Flickr

The first thing you should know about Seattle if you don’t already is that we don’t win stuff. And it’s not just that we don’t win stuff, it’s that no one cares. You know how Boston started racking up championships like Chuck-E-Cheese’s prize tickets at the start of the last decade? Imagine that, only without ESPN or anyone ever mentioning the city. That’s Seattle.

So between Macklemore and the Seahawks, it’s been a pretty crazy two weeks.

The feeling is…I don’t even know if we know how to feel. I sure don’t. We celebrated in typical Seattle fashion by flooding the streets, albeit without jaywalking:

That’s #HowSeattleRiots.

It’s good. The Seahawks earned this prize for all of us, and we needed it desperately. In the end, the only surprise was how easy it seemed. This was the first time* a Seattle team was in a position where it was expected to win. In almost every instance before this, we were on a miracle run—the underdogs—just lucky to be there at all. That is truly what defined this Seahawks team more than any other in Seattle sports history.

(*The 2001 Mariners aren’t exactly fondly remembered. The city still considers the ’95 Mariners, who were arguably less successful, to be the greatest team of all time, and that only changed after Sunday.)

True to how new we are to this, we’re all wondering…what do we do now? Sure, there’s the parade and everything, but what then? Is this it, is it over? Or is there more? Are we gonna turn into Boston 2.0 and run the table in multiple leagues for the next 10 years?

The Seattle that existed before Sunday wouldn’t be surprised to find itself waiting another 35 years for lightning to strike again. But there’s a new Seattle now that thinks maybe success isn’t so far-fetched. After all, the Seahawks are a very young, very talented team—the D-word doesn’t sound entirely crazy right now, which is crazy. Maybe Robinson Cano is what finally forces the Mariners to get their act together. Maybe Adam Silver sees what the Seahawks have built and decides he’d like that in the NBA.

In the New Seattle, all of this is possible. Our city has felt what winning The Big One feels like, and we love it. We love it, and we’re ready to represent this place on a national stage for a long time. No more hiding behind rain clouds and crappy teams. We’re here, we matter, and we’re just getting started.

Quick plug: Curator, the agency I work at, is planning to present a book to the team full of fan photos pulled from the Instagram hashtag #thankyouseahawks. If you’d like to contribute, please use the hashtag on Instagram, and check out the site here.